World

Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala erupts, killing 25, as locals flee

Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala erupts, killing 25, as locals flee

Streets and houses were covered in the colonial town of Antigua, a popular tourist destination.

Residents of El Rodeo, about 8 miles (12 kilometers) downslope from the crater, said they were caught unaware by fast-moving pyroclastic flows when the volcano west of Guatemala City exploded Sunday, sending towering clouds of ash miles into the air.

The Volcan de Fuego is one of Central America's most active volcanoes.

The unidentified police officers were captured on video turning their vehicle around as a huge ash cloud from the volcano, also known as Volcano of Fire, began approaching them. Video recorded by the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala (CONRED) shows the woman, identified by RBC Televisión as El Rodeo resident Consuelo Hernández, walking dazed down a smoky street to describe the horrific scene she'd just witnessed.

The Fuego volcano, about 40km (25 miles) south-west of the capital Guatemala City, has been spewing rocks, black smoke and ash into the sky.

President Jimmy Morales and his government declared three days of mourning and a state of emergency for Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez, which must still be ratified by Congress.

More than 3,100 people have been evacuated while search and rescue efforts continue into the night, said Sergio García Cabañas, director of the disaster agency.

Among the fatalities were four people, including a disaster agency official, killed when lava set a house on fire in El Rodeo, National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said.

Israel's Foreign Ministry says Monday it extended the assistance through its embassy in Guatemala and that a further assessment will be held with local authorities later.

The toll from the eruption of a highly active volcano near Guatemala's capital has risen to 62, officials said. For their part, regional authorities confirmed that the lava and mud rivers buried El Rodeo de Escuintla village in the south of the country.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated away from these areas, which may extend further should any more activity occur.

Earlier, Reuters reported that the aviation authorities closed Guatemala City's worldwide airport because of the danger posed to planes.

In addition to those killed, another 20 people were injured.

Hundreds of rescue workers were helping survivors and recovering bodies from the lava's path of destruction, while some areas were inaccessible as roads were cut off by the flow.

Dense ash blasted out by the volcano shut down Guatemala City's global airport, civil aviation said.

It's the second time this year it has erupted.

The volcano erupted Sunday, spewing a river of lava and plumes of smoke nearly 6 miles into the air.


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